Spiced Cauliflower Couscous

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cauliflowercouscousSummer has a natural, flowing vitality to it, an unfaltering sun-drenched splendor. And its gifts just keep on coming in the form of fresh produce. I hardly think a faux couscous made of cauliflower with yellow raisins and spices deserves its own post, delicious as it may be, even topped with an egg (my fave!), but consider this a rendition of “welcome to what we really eat”– a portrait of dinner for when I work too hard and play too hard or when, for a rare moment, I’m home alone. I was also so seduced by the evanescent color of these cauliflower heads that I had to showcase them in a post of their own. The great thing about this “couscous” is that it’s a great canvas for absorbing the flavors of whatever you put in it. I went for turmeric, sumac, yellow raisins, toasted nuts, herbs and the option of coconut milk. You really can do with it what you please. Like any good creation, it has a basic structure, but it also allows you to float out of that structure. This makes a great light dinner on its own or you could use it as a side.cauliflowercouscous5I’m beginning to consider that life has a richness greater than one’s personal satisfaction. In summer, there’s something stronger in the air—a largeness of spirit, as well as abundant physical beauty and it’s contagious. It allows for moments of contentment in the eternal struggle between security and passion, and a clearing in the wilderness of a heart that beats to its own guiding rhythm.  The bounty of summer forces us to ask ourselves, “What do we really hunger for?” Sometimes that’s hard to identify, but for me it’s especially frustrating when I yearn for something deeper and more elegant than the possibilities presented. This is a feeling that stirs creativity and forces you to look around and appreciate the gifts you have. The greatest wisdom is in realizing that we always have more to learn from others, and about ourselves. The questions alone are more important than the answers.

Why do I bring this up? It’s because the community that I’ve discovered through this little site is a constant source of inspiration for me and has allowed me to reach the deeper and more elegant order of things for which I’ve longed. I will read someone’s recipe and have it stuck in my head for a week, until I learn how to do it myself. I’ll obsess over a chicken dish or a single herb given to me by a friend or a flavor combination to the point where I dream about it. This kind of passion brings a joyful sort of suffering. A desperation to learn all there is to know. It’s an affirmation of vitality too and I want to express my gratitude to all who read, lurkers and commenters alike, and to all who write and contribute to this lovely online community, juggling family, jobs and so much more and yet still come to the table with passion and expression, the kind that lights my kitchen on fire.  Whenever people thank me for cooking for them, I always thank them back for allowing me to cook for them because without the inspiration of interaction everything around me is a little duller, a little less bright. And so, a post full of as much color as the summer, even if I usually eat this one alone. cauliflower2

Ingredients:

  • about 3 (loose) cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, (almonds or pine nuts will do too) chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
  •  a handful cilantro leaves
  • a handful of yellow raisins
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup chickpeas, (optional: roast them in a bit of oil & salt)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sumac powder
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • salt

cauliflower1Directions:

Toast your hazelnuts and pine nuts and roast your chickpeas. Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it’s “riced” (ie, the size of couscous). Careful not to overmix, you don’t want to puree the cauliflower. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower “couscous” and a few good pinches of salt. Let it gently toast for a minute or so and stir. You should see a few of the bits turning golden brown. (Careful not to overcook you want the pieces tender and not mushy). Toss again and add the nuts and spices and chickpeas. Cook until the spices become fragrant (about 30 seconds more) and remove from heat.

Make a sauce by stirring together the coconut milk, turmeric, curry powder, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Toss cauliflower mix with half the sauce, (not too much so it stays fluffy), and top with fresh cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve it with the rest of the sauce on the side.cauliflower

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